Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cross-Dressing Wedding Crashers: Trixie Belden #17- The Mystery of the Uninvited Guest

In the past, if I were pressed to choose a favorite Trixie book, it probably would have been this one. Re-reading it solidified that decision in my mind. I love this book. Definitely my favorite. I'm a little surprised that it doesn't score higher on a lot of people's lists. Some say the tone of the book is off, but I think the writing style of this one is great. It's more introspective, contains better dialogue, and the humor is actually funny. Some of Trixie's faults are pointed out and dealt with in this book, instead of being glossed over as they often are. And everybody gets to play a role in this one. Di, Dan, Bobby, Regan, Mr. Maypenny, Mrs. Vanderpool- everyone is invited to this party. Oh, and I like the cover too, except for Jim's fuchsia red hair. Trixie looks really pretty in her bridesmaid dress.

I don't mean to sound lazy, but I'm not going to try to recap the whole thing. It's just too involved. This book picks up where the last one left off. It's still summer in Sleepyside, and everyone is getting ready for Hans and Julianna's wedding. They're to be married in the Manor House garden, and all the Bob-Whites will play a part in the ceremony. It should be a happy time, but Trixie is upset by the arrival of her cousin from Idaho, Hallie Belden. Hallie is tall and slender and even prettier than Diana, if such a thing is possible. Trixie and Hallie have never gotten along very well in the past, and this visit doesn't start off very well either. Trix sees someone at the window of the Belden's home, looking down the lane with binoculars. She accuses Hallie of spying on her, but it's actually Bobby who is the culprit. He tells them some jibberish about seeing a wheelchair and someone stealing mail. Bobby actually sounds more grown-up and articulate than usual in this book, but still, no one can make sense of what he is talking about.

The wheelchair becomes very important throughout this story. Trixie grudgingly lets Hallie help her investigate. They find that the chair was supposed to be delivered to the Glen Road Inn, but was lost along Glen Road instead. It eventually ends up at the Inn to be used by elderly cripple Miss Ryks. Miss Ryks is staying there along with her nephew, the scrawny Dick Ryks. Miss Ryks manages to finangle an invitation to the wedding, even though neither Hans nor Juliana is really sure who she is or how she knows their families.

The wheelchair isn't the only thing that goes missing. The Lynch mansion is robbed while the Lynches are having dinner at their country club. Diana never receives an invitation to the wedding, even though Honey is sure one was sent to her. Trixie thinks that whoever Bobby saw stealing mail must have taken it.

Worse yet, Juliana's diamond tulip engagement ring goes missing. (It has to be a tulip, because they're from Holland, see?) Suspicion falls on Dan when the ring is found in his handkerchief, shoved into a drawer in Uncle Regan's desk. Before they can confront him about it, Dan disappears. Some members of his old gang have been seen hanging around Sleepyside. The adults think maybe Dan has gone back to his old ways, but the Bob-Whites are worried that something sinister has happened to him.

Food begins disappearing from the Belden house. Moms thinks she is losing her mind. Scooters, bicycles, and wagons disappear all along Glen Road. Bobby is acting strange, too; he's quiet and withdrawn and not nosing his way into everyone's business like he usually is. Something is bothering him, but Trixie is too busy with wedding preparations and the search for Dan to find out what it is.

Things start to make sense when a couple of the gang members are apprehended by the Bob-Whites and the police, trying to sell the stolen wheels and the stuff from the Lynch robbery at a big yard sale. It's a pretty funny scene, actually, with the Bob-Whites managing to get in everyone's way and keep anyone from buying the stolen goods. It turns out the gang members had been hiding in the woods and had convinced Bobby to bring food to them by telling him he could be in their "club." When Bobby got suspicious, they told him they would hurt Reddy with their knives. That is big-time creepy, especially for a Trixie Belden book! Poor kid!

Even with the gang members captured, there is still no sign of Dan. Trixie and the Bob-Whites still can't figure out who Miss Ryks is or how she and her nephew ties into all the robberies. They have been to the inn to spy on both the Ryks several times, but they never seem to be there at the same time. Usually the only person they see is Dick. Finally, they manage to catch Dick dressing up as his "Aunt Kate." They're the same person! Trixie tells the police, but they are skeptical. They agree to send a couple of officers to the wedding to help guard the gifts, and they will keep an eye on the inn, but that's all they can do.

The big showdown happens at the wedding. Hallie goes missing before the ceremony. Miss Ryks shows up, and Trixie manages to show her as a fraud once and for all. He/She/It is actually the person Dan's old gang was reporting to. Dan and Hallie are found tied up back at the Inn, in an upstairs room. And somehow, the wedding goes off more or less without a hitch, and Hans and Juliana never suspect a thing. That may be the biggest miracle Trixie has ever pulled off.

Last lines: "No, Hallie, that's not quite right." Trixie did her best imitation of a drawl and linked arms with her new friend. "You're an OK kid yourself!"
"Oh, jeeps," Hallie chuckled.
"That's "gleeps!" the Bob-Whites chorused.

Thank you for your patience- this was supposed to be up last week, but I got sick. Next book will be...well, I'm not sure yet. Guess you will have to wait and be surprised. Thanks for reading!